I used Garmin’s Edge 810 for around two years before I decided to switch to the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt. Here are the reasons why:
- Garmin’s software quality control is dipping. Besides the Edge 810, I owned the Forerunner 235, Fenix 5S and Forerunner 935. There have been recurring software issues with all devices especially with new patches. The Edge 810 crashed often especially in map mode. The Forerunner 235 was unable to sustain its heart rate broadcast mode because the phone app triggered an update every few minutes. The Fenix 5S had ANT+ connectivity issues. The Forerunner 935 has been holding up so far but a recent new Garmin Connect app update caused various phones to experience Bluetooth connection problems with Garmin devices (not just the Forerunner 935). You can now understand why I cannot fully trust Garmin to deliver a product that simply works. Even if it works at the beginning, a future software update can drag the device down. Garmin needs to up its quality control.
- Garmin’s dive into the app market is premature and poorly executed. Garmin took the right direction (in my opinion) in kickstarting an app market. But it should have done more to guide its software developers. Its hardware was also not powerful enough to deal with the increased demands of an open software development environment. Apps were crashing because of that. Sure, Garmin devices have an almost endless number of feature possibilities with a never ending list of apps, but there is no guarantee that the apps will work well or if your device can function correctly when running these apps.
- Garmin’s new devices are not inspiring. The Edge 520, 820 and 1030 do not exactly bring upgrade worthy features. Why would I upgrade my 820 to another Garmin device given the two issues above?
In short, Wahoo has so far been the the complete opposite. It is better focused and did more with less. The Bolt is smaller, has no colour screen and has a smaller feature set. But all the features worked and they worked perfectly again and again. Even though smaller and monochrome, the Bolt had a clearer display and I could glean information a lot quicker than on the Edge series. Wahoo’s integration with Strava and Best Bike Split is also ahead of the apps that Garmin utilises to make up for feature gaps. You cannot beat integration with an app store.
Does this mean that Wahoo is at an absolute advantage to Garmin? Definitely not. Garmin has a better device ecosystem. It is also more forward looking. This is why I am still using the Forerunner 935. But Garmin has to refocus on delivering quality hardware and software reliably. It has the right ideas but it needs to work on polish before I can place my faith in its products again.